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NLL Weekend Primer: Week 14

Week 14 is upon us and with it comes nine games of NLL action. Panther City, Toronto, and San Diego all have double dips this weekend. Eight games last week, nine this week, and eight next week, we are officially in the thick of things. At this point, the middle of the table is tight. PCLC, Georgia, Buffalo, Calgary, and New York all have either five or six wins and are right around .500. They won’t all make the playoffs. Fans of these clubs will no doubt start watching those standings a little more closely now. Here’s the rundown for this weekend.

Last week, I went 3-5 against the spread and 3-5 on game totals. Several losses by the hook. I am COLD.

For the season, I am 32-44 against the spread and 42-34 on game totals

All spreads/odds come from DraftKings at the time of writing. In case you can’t tell from the records, I’m not good at this. If you are serious about picks/wagering, you should line shop across all sportsbooks and consider the odds you are getting. I don’t actually bet these games, just picks.


When: Friday, March 1st. 7:00pm EST.

Where: ScotiaBank Centre, Halifax

How to Watch: TSN, TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Halifax favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5

The Matchup:

The Swarm sits at .500 and, as the record suggests, have been sort of up and down. Since December 22, they have won three straight, then lost three straight, then won two in a row, and currently have lost two in a row. Those two losses in a row are each by a goal, coming against San Diego and PCLC, and they haven’t played a game decided by more than three goals since December. Brett Dobson was off the charts good against San Diego and PCLC last week, that’s a good sign. 

Halifax will be bringing some serious firepower, as they often do. Randy Staats came back off IR with a six point performance last week. The Birds have won five of the last six, and gone over in the last three. They have a fairly favorable schedule the rest of the way and can still threaten for the top of the table if they keep their current form. The play of Warren Hill will be big in this game. He was at 86% last week against Saskatchewan, if he comes into this game with that kind of play, Halifax might be able to jump in front early. 

The Pick:

Halifax has looked like a heavyweight the last month and change. The have the build of a complete team, difficult to match up with on both ends. It’s tough to pick against them on in their current form. I’ll take the Birds and the over. 


When: Friday, March 1st. 8:00pm EST.

Where: Dickies Arena, Texas

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: San Diego favored by 1.5, game total set at 22.5

The Matchup:

The Seals have won five of six, beating Georgia in OT a week ago. Their one loss in that stretch was a miracle comeback by the Riptide in New York. Wes Berg is averaging about six points per game over the last five games, as is Austin Staats. The pair have been the cornerstones of as strong on offensive unit, on paper, as there is in the NLL. For all the firepower, the scoring totals aren’t overwhelming. In fact, the Seals have gone under in their last seven games, and in nine of 10 on the year. A lot of that has to do with Chris Origlieri’s ascent to star goalie status. 

Panther City has won their last two games, each by goal, beating Colorado and Georgia. Callum Crawford continues to defy time itself; he’s 14th in the NLL in scoring and leads his club. A team with young pieces around a veteran like Crawford can be a good formula. Nick Damude has quietly had an excellent season in net. PCLC is dangerous enough to beat anyone, but young and also perfectly capable of dropping a game to anyone. San Diego is a rough opponent. They probably can’t win a shootout, and will need Damude to stand on his head. 

The Pick:

San Diego looks like a juggernaut. This is the front end of a back to back for them, the second half is Toronto, so it’s possible they get caught looking ahead a bit. But I think recent form and their stacked offense carries them. Seals and the under. 


When: Friday, Match 1st. 10:00pm EST.

Where: Michelob Ultra Arena, Las Vegas

How to Watch: ESPNU, TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Toronto favored by 3.5, game total set at 21.5

The Matchup:

The first half of a double dip for Toronto. And the Rock are favored by 3.5 for the second game in a row. Last week, Toronto held Vancouver to just five goals in a win. Toronto plays transition ball, looking to their defense to create low percentage looks, or outright mistakes, from the offense, and leaning on Nick Rose to steal shots for them. They are deadly on the counter attack, even with injuries to players like Mitch de Snoo and Dan Craig, and without Latrell Harris all season. They are here to play a grind you down, low scoring, physical contest that will frustrate an offense and counter punch for 60 minutes. 

Vegas beat a freefalling Rochester team last week, but had last three of four before that. The win in that stretch though, was Albany. Vegas has a win over San Diego as well. It’s been a up and down year for Vegas, and who shows up in a given week seems to be a mystery. Landon Kells has been hot in net over the last few games, he’ll be critical if Vegas has upset on their minds. He was at 85% a week ago a performance like that will have Vegas in the game again. Toronto is missing Challen Rogers, their transition won’t be quite as potent as it typically is. 

The Pick:

The spread is big. The 3.5 goal line doesn’t happen a ton, but Toronto had it last week as the favorite and covered by the hook. I’m going to bank on Kells and Vegas battling in this one, and the good Desert Dogs to show up at home on ESPNU. I’ll take Vegas to cover, and the under. 


When: Friday, March 1st. 10:00pm EST.

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver

How to Watch: TSN, TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Buffalo favored by 2.5, game total set at 23.5

The Matchup:

Buffalo has lost back to back games against Halifax and Albany. Their other losses this year are to Albany, Georgia, and a hot New York team. I wrote early in the year that I’ll never stop trusting Buffalo, and that’s still true, but right now if they want to get back to the title game, they need to come out on the right side of the close games with other contenders. This is a get your mojo back game for the Bandits. Snap a losing streak, get some swagger back, and get ready for a favorable schedule down the second half and push into the playoffs. 

For Vancouver, at this point, the playoffs are probably a bridge too far. They’ve lost four straight. The remaining schedule has dates with Albany, Halifax, San Diego, and New York. The Warriors likely need to win all four of those games and get some help to climb into the playoff picture, and that does not feel possible. But this year has been about developing the young players, and they’ve done that. Experience against winners like Buffalo is valuable. Owen Grant gets to take the floor on defense against some of the best individual talents in the sport, that’s a win in itself. 

The Pick:

For being as good as they are, Buffalo is the worst team in the league against the spread. They are 3-7. Vancouver is just the plain old worst team in the league record wise. They’re a major underdog at home. When Vancouver covers, it’s been against middle or bottom of the table teams. They managed just five goals last week against Toronto. All that adds up to me getting nuts. Warriors +2.5 and the under. 


When: Saturday, March 2nd. 1:00pm EST.

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Calgary favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5

The Matchup:

Calgary climbed from 2-5 to 5-5 and currently hold the “nobody wants to play this team” crown. This week, for the second week in a row, Philly gets to play them. This time the Wings are at home. Calgary has a road win against Toronto, but otherwise hasn’t been good away from home. So much of Calgary catching fire has to do with transition play. And it all starts with Christian Del Bianco. He’s had at least one assist in each of the last six games, and nine total in that span. Off a save or a loose ball, he’s finding ways to immediately pressure the opponent. Against a suspect defense, this is deadly. 

For Philly, at this point, the book is written. The defense has been bad, and Zach Higgins has bailed them out a whole lot this year. The offense is one of the best groups in the league, but some injuries early disrupted things and so they’ve been up and down. The Wings have lost three of four, but it’s been a very difficult stretch of schedule. They played Halifax and San Diego to one goal games; they can play with anyone, but the defense just hasn’t been consistent enough for them to wind up on the right end of close games lately. 

The Pick:

I don’t know how you can pick against Calgary right now. The second part of a home and home might make things slightly complicated, but ultimately the Riggers look like the hottest team in the game. I’ll take Calgary and the over. 


When: Saturday, March 2nd. 7:00pm EST.

Where: MVP Arena, Albany

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Albany favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5

The Matchup:

New York has cooled off a bit following their January hot streak. After four straight wins, the Riptide have dropped two in a row by a combined 14 goals. The opponents were Toronto and Colorado on the road. It doesn’t get any easier this week playing Albany on the road. Part of this has coincide with the play of Cam Dunkerley coming back down to earth. His worst game in the win streak was a 76% game against Georgia. In the last two games, he’s basically been right at 70% in net, and made just 27 saves against Colorado. The offense in New York has been’t a problem since January, the defense needs to get it’s groove back, a tall order against Albany.

The Firewolves had a little hiccup and lost back to back games against San Diego and Vegas, but are back to their winning ways over the last two contests. Last week, they got a win in Banditland, reminding everyone this is no fluke or lucky streak, they are for real. The formula is known at this point. Get solid netminding from Doug Jamieson, and let the young trio of Kurtz, Simmons, and Walker cook. If New York doesn’t neutralize Joe Nardella, the Firewolves will also enjoy a possession advantage in this one, which could be the difference when so much hinges on New York’s goalie play.

The Pick:

New York is on the farewell to Long Island tour, and trying to keep in the playoff picture. But this is just about the worst possible matchup for them given their recent form. I’ll take Albany and the over. 


When: Saturday, March 2nd. 9:00pm EST.

Where: Ball Arena, Colorado

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Colorado favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5

The Matchup:

The Rush got blown out last week by Halifax, but have recent wins over PCLC and Vancouver. The offense has been a bit more quiet in recent weeks after a very hot start to the year. Last week just six goals, and they’ve put up 10 or less in three of their last four games. When Colorado wins, it’s been against offenses that are struggling. Last week was the exception. Frank Scigliano will be an important factor, especially early. The Rush have allowed 44 first quarter goals this year, more than any other quarter. The first is also their second lowest scoring quarter as a team. Digging a hole against the Mammoth is not a recipe for success, Scigliano weathering an early storm would be huge.

Colorado remains an enigma to me. They’ve played a very difficult schedule. In fairness, the games you’d expect them to win (Calgary, Vancouver twice) are their wins, and the harder games (Buffalo, Georgia twice, San Diego twice, Albany) are losses. The margins are surprising sometimes, but the results seem right. Wind the clock back to November however, and those results might seem strange. That’s why Colorado is an enigma. I have spent much of the year waiting for them to kick things into gear. Last week against New York, they put up 18 goals and blew out the Riptide. Is it time for that famous Colorado charge to the posteason? If it is, this is a game they should win.

The Pick:

Colorado has consistently won against teams I’d expect them to beat. They have covered in four of their last six. On paper and for the oddsmakers, they are the better team. Last week’s win over New York looked like a confident team ready to get moving in the right direction. I’ve got Colorado and the under. 


When: Saturday, March 2nd. 10:00pm EST.

Where: Pechanga Arena, San Diego

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Not Available at time of writing. 

The Matchup:

No line is up on DraftKings yet, as San Diego and Toronto both play Friday first. Back in the days of the Eastern and Western Division (literally a year ago), you could think of this as a possible championship preview. It wouldn’t be crazy to still think of it that way. 

We covered Toronto a bit above, it’ll be about the defense. Frustrate you, wear you own, play physical, and turn your mistakes against you in transition.

San Diego wants to play settled, efficient 5v5 offense. They can lean on the fact that Austin Staats, Curtis Dickson, Wes Berg, and Dane Dobbie will take the floor together, and they’ll bet that there isn’t a defense in the world that can hold up for an entire game against that crew. 

Both of these game plans are really good. And completely at odds with another. This is probably the game this weekend I’m most excited to watch, an unstoppable force and immovable object type battle.

The Pick:

Can’t really make a pick with no lines yet, but that’s all the best, because really, it’s the fans that win in this one. Also I’ll take Toronto and the under in the dark.


When: Sunday, March 3rd. 4:00pm EST.

Where: Dickies Arena, Texas

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Not available at time of writing.

The Matchup:

No line is up on DraftKings yet, as PCLC has a Friday game to get through first. We talked through them above, the game plan here will be similar. The Hawks offense has knowns, handling them with good goalie play from Damude will be massive.

For the Knighthawks, there’s two major questions that are at the core of the six game losing streak. First, who else is scoring for this team? Connor Fields and Ryan Smith pile up the numbers every week, but they need additional scoring support. Ryan Lanchbury served that role earlier in the year, but he isn’t producing as much as the team might need him to right now. Thomas McConvey gets more comfortable every week, but he needs to take a more aggressive approach and start scoring on his own well. Second, can they limit the goals from the opponent to a manageable number? Goaltending and defense in Rochester have been sold separately this year. They play for shootouts and take their chances with their high octane offensive talent. But the last six times out, they’ve been unable to win the track meet. Anything that slows down the PCLC offense would be huge. Fixate on Callum Crawford and force other players to beat you, that’s a start.  

The Pick:

Just going with the trend here. Rochester hasn’t won since before Christmas. Six straight losses, and 2-4 against the spread in that tie. PCLC has back to back wins, both of the close variety, but has not been good against the spread either. I’m going to take whoever is getting goals in this game. The underdog is my pick, whenever the line comes out, with the over.


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